A copy of Ralph Young's speech may be found here.

Ralph Young, Microsoft Vice President, World Wide Public Sector gave the second introductory talk, raising some interesting points about precisely why Microsoft feels so strongly about education, and its importance on a global scale.

Rising numbers in education

Ralph elaborated on the point mentioned in the initial speech by Mr. Masuura, that we face the challenge (and opportunity) of rising numbers of students enrolled in tertiary education. In China, for example, only 10% of potential students in China would enrol in tertiary education in 1999. By 2006, this was nearly at 20%. We're seeing so many other countries following this trend and we need to realise it may not be possible to satisfy this demand through traditional mediums.

Rising numbers in technology

"Education is the key to solving many of the problems in this world - technology will enable this by removing limitations, fostering innovations and allowing both students and teachers to achieve their full potential"

So many employers are now demanding at least a basic level of ICT skills from any new hires, and this is a key point to consider. These skills may be developed through the learning experience, in tandem with classical academic studies, through the use of innovative, technology driven learning mediums.

Rising numbers on Facebook

"Learning and teaching are not the same thing. The technologies students use to learn may not be the same teachers use to teach. Which are the most engaging?"

30 years ago, it was unthinkable that students would continually be performing their own research, and collaborating with one another (as they now do through social networking, twitter, facebook, mobile phones...and on) during the learning process. We must accept that this will the case - and we have the option of whether to try and ban and stall these technologies from learning environments, or embrace and incorporate them - utilise their benefits.

Rising stars in the Imagine Cup

Ralph was kind enough to mention a competition that both of us have had lots of fun with in the past, and are continually recommending to our friends. The Imagine Cup is a competition for students, run by Microsoft, which encourages innovation, design and practical implementation of a range of skills from students worldwide.

Not only does this give students the 'real world' skills it is often so hard to teach, it also provides a sense of excitement and hype as they create their own solutions to solve real world problems. This year's theme was 'Imagine a world where technology enables a sustainable environment' and during the conference 370 teams from 61 countries and regions are participating in the finals in Paris, each with their own solution to this pressing and important problems. Over 100,000 students worldwide entered the competition last year.

In 2007, a Greek team by the name of 'Noesis' developed a computer system using RFID (Radio Frequency ID) technology to measure stress levels of autistic students. This then recommended education tailored for that student to keep stress levels down and ensure an optimum learning environment. See it in action here: